Family Of Man Who Died After Collision With Police Car Wins Award

Two men who were injured and the family of a third man who died have been awarded $700,000 after a Gresham police officer ran a stop sign and crashed into their minivan in July 2006.

The City of Gresham, Multnomah County and two Gresham homeowners who didn’t prune a cherry tree that blocked the stop sign will pay the family of Marino Sanchez-Sanchez $476,000.

Sanchez-Sanchez, 29, had been riding home in the minivan with his co-workers when Officer Joshua Linstrom ran through the stop sign at Northeast 188th Avenue and Glisan Street.

Tests showed Linstrom was driving more than 60 mph as he responded to assist another officer on a report of speed racing. In the days after the crash, Linstrom said he hadn’t seen the stop sign. Investigators determined that the officer hadn’t turned on his overhead lights and siren — as required by Oregon law — and that he was looking down at an electronic screen in his cruiser.

Linstrom had been hired 11 months before the crash, and was still in his probationary period. He resigned two months later, saying the city said it would fire him if he didn’t.

Police coaches had criticized his driving skills during his training. One called his driving “tentative.”

The lawsuits filed by or on behalf of the three men was scheduled to go to trial Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, before the settlement was reached.

Two other men in the minivan — Jose Bahena and Diego Martinez — will receive $119,000 and $105,000 respectively for their injuries, which included head or brain injuries, bruises and cuts.

Sanchez-Sanchez, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was a certified asbestos removal worker, and was heading home after a long day on the job. He left behind a widow and two children, now ages 6 and 7. Part of the money will go to an educational fund for the children, and part will help the family with daily living expenses.

Gresham will pay $500,000 of the overall settlement. Multnomah County will pay $50,000, because of an intergovernmental agreement that said the county was responsible for trimming trees. Gresham code also said that homeowners are responsible for keeping their vegetation from obscuring signs.

The couple who owned the home next to the stop sign, Mark Fletcher and Patricia Fletcher, will pay $150,000 through their homeowners’ insurance.

Brendan Dummigan, the attorney for Sanchez-Sanchez’s family, said the case serves as a tragic reminder that property owners need to keep trees or brush from blocking traffic-control signs or signals.